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Montecito mystery has homeowner charged up

MONTECITO, Calif. - Trev Broudy looks back to February, 2019 when his Golden Retriever nearly died as the first indication something was wrong. He said the dog was anemic and losing weight. He spent about $15,000 on vet bills trying to help her but no one could figure it out, until one veterinarian suggested possible metal poisoning.

The vet suggested making a few changes including switching to bottled water. Broudy said something worked and she eventually got better and recovered. At the time, he said he had no clue where his dog might have been poisoned.

In September, 2020, Broudy said the Montecito Water District notified him that it tested the water at his residence on the 100 block of Middle Road and discovered extremely high levels of copper. He was instructed not to drink his tap water. The MWD has 37 properties that participate in its Lead and Copper Monitoring Program. The properties are tested every three years and Broudy's is one of them. Broudy said the test in September, 2017 showed copper readings at 90 ppb (parts per billion) which apparently is acceptable because Broudy said no one from the water district seemed concerned. However, the MWD's next test in September, 2020 showed his tap water at 1530 ppb for copper. Many times higher than the previous reading and higher than acceptable levels.

Broudy said one possible source of the problem is electrolysis where the copper lines start to deteriorate. He said crews from MWD, Southern California Edison and Cox Cable have spent months trying to figure out what's going on and he's frustrated by it. He's been told not to drink his water and at one point he was told to leave his home due to possible shock hazard.

These utilities are located next to Broudy's home on Middle Road

Broudy said he hired an electrician to investigate. He said the electrician started by inspecting the power lines that run from Middle Road to his home. "They checked the meter out there, they had 45 volts of electricity. They came over here and checked the meter right here, they had 12 volts. We went into the house they checked electric and any appliance was registering 8 volts of electricity and he said you have to leave the house immediately." said Broudy.

Crews installed a ground outside Broudy's home to reduce the electric current

Broudy also explained how the electrician managed to lower the voltage running through the home by grounding his copper pipes, but he said there is still a current that runs through the house and he's concerned about it. He said he does take precautions but so far he has not felt any electric shocks.

Edison crews at work on Middle Road in Montecito

Crews from Southern California Edison and Cox were at Broudy's home on Friday conducting tests to try and figure out what's going on and if any other homes nearby might be impacted. Edison spokesman David Song told The NewsChannel, "Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our communities. Southern California Edison (SCE) has been and will continue working diligently and collaboratively with Mr. Broudy and other utilities to help investigate his concerns. SCE cannot speculate about the situation until SCE and other stakeholders have completed their respective analyses."

We also contacted Cox Communications to find out if it's crews have any information about the source of the problem. A spokesperson said they have inspected their equipment and verified that everything is working properly and no electric current is running from their equipment to Broudy's home.

We also contacted the MWD to find out if other homes in the area have been impacted by high copper readings in the water. We were referred to a written statement on its website which reads, "Montecito Water District participates in a lead and copper testing program in accordance with the State of California’s Lead and Copper Rule.  The purpose of the program is to monitor for lead and copper at customer taps since household plumbing is the most common source of lead and copper in drinking water.  Through its involvement in the program, the District has become aware of an elevated copper reading at one property out of thirty seven participating properties in Montecito.  The District is currently working with the property owner to determine the cause and performing additional testing to confirm that this issue is an isolated occurrence and does not exist at other locations.  Tests performed to date demonstrate that water provided by the District to its customers meets all primary and secondary drinking water standards."

The NewsChannel will continue to follow this story.

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C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter. To learn more about C.J., click here


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